Population Health From Employers' Perspective

Crain's Health Pulse
December 10, 2013
Population Health From Employers' Perspective

Featuring: Jeff Kraut, Sr VP, Strategic Planning, North Shore-LIJ

Population Health From Employers' Perspective
The state Department of Health held a summit on population health last week that presented multiple ways of making people healthier as a community. Employers have a special interest in keeping their workers healthy—and they aren’t merely motivated by cutting down sick time and health costs.

Dr. Jeremy Nobel, medical director, Northeast Business Group on Health, said businesses improve employee health because of labor economics. Corporations address wellness “because of the absolute requirement for employers to attract and retain a healthy workforce,” he said. Many companies offer competitive health coverage because they are competing globally, including in countries where health costs are far lower than in the U.S.

Dr. Kyu Rhee, vice president of IBM Integrated Health Services, said the health of IBM workers has an impact on a “broad range of performance measures,” not only sick days and “presentism.” Wellness is an important concept at IBM, he said. “It’s about making the healthiest choice the easiest and safest choice.” At IBM, all primary care visits are at no charge to employees.

IBM tackles population health by examining claims data, but it also goes deeper through health data analytics. Globally, the company has several hundred people who focus on population health and evidence-based solutions to keeping workers healthy.

Jeffrey Kraut, senior vice president of strategy and business informatics at North Shore-LIJ, spoke of the system’s “Walk to Paris” initiative (Pulse, June 14), where employees voluntarily lost a collective 145,000 pounds. “People are still walking and doing this,” said Mr. Kraut, and the system will collect data and monitor employees’ results over three years. The system will next focus on the health of night workers. “It bounced off the page that we had to look at the data” for the night-shift employees, he said.

Sponsored by the New York State Health Foundation, information on the population health summit is online here.


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